Image by: Jonathan Majors Ebony cover
Jonathan Majors is experiencing a meteoric rise in Hollywood right now. He has back to back big blockbusters coming out in theaters, first as Marvel’s new big bad guy Kang the Conqueror in Ant Man & The Wasp Quantumania, and a couple of weeks later he will stand toe to toe with Michael B. Jordan in Creed III as Adonis Creed’s newest rival.
But Majors star power was not the only story concerning him breaking over the last couple of weeks. Getting his big break crossing over to big mainstream audiences was celebrated with a spread in Ebony Magazine. Many women swooned over the photos of the young actor’s muscular body, and softened sex symbol image.
Not everyone was happy with these images, as the cover of Ebony had Majors draped in a pink fluffy coat with no shirt on, while appearing to make “duck lips”. The photoshoot according to stylist Alexander Julian was a cosplay costume inspired by a popular anime character called DonQuixote Doflimingo. Many did not catch the reference and thought the photo shoot was part of a media agenda to feminize black men.
The other photos that had the internet in a tizzy were the photos of Michael B Jordan and Majors sharing embraces. The black and white photos were timed to release right before Creed III. It’s slightly unusual to see two men that are playing characters that are playing arch rivals in a film to be photographed embracing each other right before the film. Black men hugging each other this way seemed awkward with the timing, and it made some uncomfortable, with many calling it “suspect”, affirming the agenda.
For many years there has been a theory that media outlets do not like images of strong black men, and that they would do anything to project images of effeminate or gay men on television and in the public eye. Some attribute instances of comedians wearing dresses as a part of this agenda, and that comedians like Katt Williams and Dave Chappelle got push back for refusing to wear a dress in their comedy.
The push back against the push back says why can’t black men embracing each other be seen as being masculine. The push back against the narrative says there is more than one way to be a man and project manhood. Some would say these narratives have tinges of homophobia, transphobia or unfair expectations heaped upon men that we really don’t know.
The debate rages on, as maybe it’s time we redefine what masculinity and what it looks like. It is having muscles and looking strong and angry. Is it being a leader, being responsible, taking care of your family and community? Is there more than one way to project it?
Is there anything wrong with having the desire to see images of strong black cisgender heterosexual men on our television and movie screens? All great questions that need answering. Feel free to tweet me your thoughts @MrRobAnthony on Twitter. Let’s change the narrative, or at least examine it with fresh eyes.